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December 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Daniel's Comic Book Column # 14:
December 2002 by Daniel P. Dern (

This will be my final Comic Column for; starting next issue, I'll be focusing on "graphic novels",  by which we mean books conceived as full length graphic works as well as compilations of shorter pieces (e.g. Comics) giving you entire storylines and easier access, since they can generally be found at It's frustrating to find out about a comic you really want to read, only to find it's sold out. Of course, the hunt is part of the fun, and it's a mixed blessing to be able to read an entire story from beginning to end. It's also easier to find titles with clearer SF/Fantasy ties than mainstream comics, so that should make Editor Ern happy.

I've enjoyed doing this column, and appreciate the opportunities it's given me. If anyone needs a Comics Column for their publication, by the way, I'd be interested in discussing it with you.

Now, it being December, I should be doing gift recommendations, a year-end round-up, or a year-coming look-ahead/forecast, et c. So, let's see how this goes... First, some of the usual stuff.

Comic(s) to Watch for: (Not yet out and I haven't read them yet)

The dial of "Dial H for HERO" turned its owner/user into a superhero -- almost always a new one each time, with a different power. Back in the mid-60's, when the device and title first appeared, teen-aged Robby Reed, who found it (see this Dial H page of Don Markstein's Toonopedia for more) had a bunch of adventures, and then faded back into the comic woodwork, give or take a few subsequent appearances here and there, was restarted in 1981 by Marv Wolfman (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist) (hard to argue with a team like that!). And that was pretty much it. Well, the dial's back, in a new title: H.E.R.O.

It's from DC Comics, $2.50, and due out February 12. 2003. And if you haven't been reading JUSTICE SOCIETY (shame on you! tsk!), now is the time to start -- it looks like a doozie of a story arc's about to happen.

Dern's One-comic-a-week list: Justice Society. Hawkman. Amazing Spider-Man. New X-Men. And my 2nd-comic-a week: Fantastic Four. Green Arrow. Supergirl. Aquaman, or The Hulk.

RETURN TO OZ: Next, a gift recommendation that isn't a comic book but is inarguably within the sf/f realm: the DVD of RETURN TO OZ. A live-with-people version chockful of gritty HensonCo animations, RETURN TO OZ is, In my opinion, echoed by many others, far more faithful to the spirit, look and feel of the Oz books than the Judy Garland movie we all know. i.e., it looks like the illustrations we're used to.

It also looks like the Eric Shanower 'Oz' graphic novellas, both look like the original Oz. If I recall correctly -- I bought a copy of the DVD but haven't watched it yet, so I'm relying on decade-plus-old memories of RETURN TO OZ from seeing it in the theater, and maybe once on TV -- is actually a conflation of Oz books numbers 2 and 3, The Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz respectively. In any case, I recall RETURN TO OZ being great.

Age Warning, it's a little somber, perhaps even gruesome; don't let, say, your kids under seven or eight watch it until you've checked it out.


In no particular order, here's a few more gift suggestions. I'm not going to go crazy with a long list; if this isn't enough choices, (re-)read my previous columns. Caveats: Some of these are out of print; some are in print but may not be available via, Barnes and Noble, etc. In both cases, check your local comic book shop; also check for referrals to used copies, depending on who you're buying for. Disclaimer: In some cases, I haven't seen/read the reprint version; I read things as they appeared issue by issue. I don't think this should make a difference (other than the anticipation, versus being able to read it all in one sitting).

SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS Written by Jeph Loeb; art and cover by Tim Sale Color, 208 pg. Trade Paperback $14.95 You couldn't find a sweeter present than this, especially now that it's out in a more affordable trade paperback. Done as a four-issue miniseries on lovely hard-stock paper, Superman For All Seasons shows the transition of the teen-age/young adult Clark Kent into adulthood and Superman. If this sounds like the current TV series Smallville, you're right -- except that this came first, by several years, but note that Author Jeph Loeb is involved in the show's writing this season.

It's a simple, but strong story, with lovely, lovely, lovely art -- you can see two samples from the "VIEW ART: Cover 1  2  3" links on this page on DC Comics' site. It's also got a great last line. This should be suitable for anybody reading superhero comics, in terms of themes, language, etc., if I recall correctly.

Superman/Gen13 Written by Adam Hughes Penciled by Lee Bermejo Inked by John Nyberg (DC/Wildstorm, $14.95,  I talked about this 3-issue DC/Wildstorm miniseries in my first column in SFRevu.  "Gen13" is, apparently, a comic about a group -- as opposed to a team -- of super-teenagers ("generation thirteen" of something). You don't need to even know this to read and enjoy this comic (I didn't, for example), and a good thing, too, because there's NO background info, or info-page, anywhere in the original issues. (Maybe DC/Wildstorm put one into the trade paperback, I haven't looked yet.)

See The Gen13 Addicts' Page for lotsa background and other info on these folks. I'm pretty sure that Gen13 fans know who Superman (and his supporting cast) is/are, etc., but us Superman fans don't necessarily know about the Gen13 gang. But, like I said, not a problem. Fun story, but the real reason to get this is the art, which is stunningly realistic. Should be suitable for anybody ten and up, I'd think.

And some more graphic novels/collections:

* V For Vendetta, Watchman, both by Alan Moore. Worth reading, worth owning.
* X-Men: E Is for Extinction ($12.95) and New X-Men ($19.99), or the hardcover that (I think) includes the contents of both of these. Morrison's run nearly to date on the NEW X-MEN title.
* Either of the two ANIMAL MAN trade reprints (DC). Or, for people including the non-comic-familiar, young'uns, or just plain people you like, if you're willing to do a little digging, online or calling comic stores, you might try getting them some Walt Kelly Pogo books, or some of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo, e.g.
* The Best of Little Nemo in Slumber Land by Winsor McCay, Richard Marschall (Editor)

* Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue Eyed Years With Pogo, by Walt Kelly If you can't find something from these, you either have friends with well-stocked libraries, or you need to go to somebody else's column for ideas.

Happy holidays!

Daniel P. Dern ( (Daniel P. Dern is a free-lance technology writer.)

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